View Full Version : Best Uke for Action/Playability.

07-23-2008, 01:04 PM
I know there really is no specifics here because we are all different, but when you consider some of the high prices we pay for quality Uke's, we do expect pretty much everything to be right as we see it.

Personally I consider the action of the Uke to be one of the most important aspects and probably the big 3 are, action, sound, and intonation. While my experience is limited to one very good Uke - Kiwaya, the only other Uke I have which I consider has all these things is a Flea. The rest, (about 4 others different brands) are pretty poor in comparison but they are in fairness not that expensive.

However, I don't consider the Flea to be an expensive Uke but if we are talking about all wood Uke's which are expensive, would they to have as good an action as the Flea? Something like a GString, Kamaka, etc?

07-23-2008, 02:21 PM
I think you make a good point here. Of all the Ukes I have played (granted that's not THAT many, maybe a dozen) my fluke has the best action of all of them. I am no Luthier, but I believe that the use of the "zero-fret" is the reason for the great action on fleas/flukes. Im curious to see what other brands come up here as ukes with great action.

07-23-2008, 03:05 PM
when you buy from mgm he sets them up really good

07-23-2008, 03:20 PM
my kamaka's (concert) action is wayyyyyy lower than my friend's kala.

07-23-2008, 04:05 PM
when you buy from mgm he sets them up really good

Hmm, well would that not depend on what Uke? Like I said I have a few which are comparable in price with the Flea and are truly awful.

07-23-2008, 04:07 PM
Hmm, well would that not depend on what Uke? Like I said I have a few which are comparable in price with the Flea and are truly awful.

Care to name names and point fingers? Does your flea have the regular fretboard or the rosewood?

07-23-2008, 08:21 PM
i would say koa pono and kamaka, they are my 3 fav uke brands because most people who own them, make it sound great... whether its 300 or 2000

07-23-2008, 10:40 PM
Care to name names and point fingers? Does your flea have the regular fretboard or the rosewood?

Regular standard off the shelf bottom of the range Flea. I have been in contact with quite a few Flea and Fluke owners who say their Uke's are the same - superb action and intonation. Every upgrade you have therefore only enhances what you already have, either cosmetically or in the case of Rosewood Fretboard to make the feel better, to use a wound string, or look better.
I know that once you get something right, as in the case of the Flea/Fluke manufacturers, then they will all be right as the parts are all made the same. Intonation can be off with an all wood Uke, but my argument mainly addresses the action.

O'Hana Uke's for instance are high action and comparing them with the Flea/Fluke is no comparison. I also suspect that some Uke's made abroad in the far east are hit and miss (mostly miss) in this area, and those that are set up after manufacturer in the states are also hit and miss obviously depending on just who sets them up.

I would like to add that if your a beginner and buy a Flea/Fluke first, a lot of other purchases you may do later on in the same or a little higher price range will be disappointing when comparing the action. That hold true in reverse if you buy a Flea later on just to get one for travel etc, and find it far better than what you already have. That is why I started this thread to see if anyone has higher end Uke's and see if their action is good and there as standard and equal to the Flea.

07-24-2008, 03:52 AM
The Flea and Fluke have excellent actions. To date, the tenor Fluke is the only tenor I can properly play though I haven't had a go at the "expensive" tenors.

The worst action I have is on my Kala aqua tenor. But I've played worse, that's just the worst I have. :)

Then with my three favs, the concert uklectic, koa flea, and soprano koaloha, those all have great actions. The uklectic edges them out, but all are slick and a joy to play.

I don't think you can go wrong with a Fluke or Flea when it comes to playability.. well when it comes to lots of things, but other brands could learn a thing or two from them.

07-24-2008, 06:42 AM
Action is something that is completely user adjustable on most ukes. If it comes too high it can always be lowered by removing material from the bottom of the saddle. Therefore it is better that the action comes too high as you can then lower it to your own preference. It is a lot harder to raise the action as it requires shimming the saddle or making a new one altogether.

Fleas and Flukes usually come with an all in one bridge/saddle, therefore it cannot be adjusted for action, which is why they all come with "good" action, because there is not adjustment it better had be right.

Lowering the action is a much more simple task than most people seem to imagine. It is simply a matter of removing the saddle from the bridge and rubbing it on a sheet of abrasive paper to remove material from the underside. The whole job should take no longer than ten minutes.

Good action is a subjective matter also. Low action may be easier to play, but it will not drive the top so much and therefore notes can lose definition and volume. Too high and intonation can start to go out since pushing the strings down against the frets pulls them sharp.

The nut is a different matter. That should be pretty much the same no matter what the action at the saddle end. Having a nut that is too high will make much more difference to playability and intonation. But again, better that it is cut too high than too low as it is fairly easy to lower this as well, though it takes a little more skill and experience to get just right. I do think it is far more important that a uke comes with a well cut nut, there is not much excuse for getting this wrong.

Hope this sheds some light on the matter. Feel free to fire more questions my way if you have any. :) I have dealt with setting the nut and action on several different stringed instruments so i should be able to help.

Sorry for the long post :o

07-24-2008, 07:38 AM
The thing is Futch is that personally I wouldn't attempt any alteration especially if I paid out a fair amount. Other than that, I wouldn't expect a high end Uke to have to be altered anyway because I can't believe that anyone would want high action as standard.

07-24-2008, 08:01 AM
Fair enough that you wouldn't want to do it yourself. I suppose the point i am trying to make is that one should not use the action of an instrument as a determining factor of which to buy as it is something that can be changed, if not by yourself then by most music shops for a relatively small sum.

One cannot expect an instrument to come set up to their exact preference straight away. People's idea of good action etc is subjective and down to individual preference.

Many people prefer very low action, but equally others prefer a slightly higher action, for various reasons, such as more projection of sound or purely because they prefer the feel and find they are less likely to fret wrong notes.

I for one would be rather annoyed if a uke came with very low action, as i prefer a bit of height. My only option would be to shim the saddle or to make a new one.

In short, you can't satisfy everyone, so it is fortunate that these things can be altered without much fuss.

07-25-2008, 01:15 AM
I suppose I've been relatively lucky with the action on all my ukes. The only one that's a tad off is my Kala, which buzzes a bit on one string, but it's an easy fix when I change strings. My Flukes, my Ponos have all been excellent. My Applause is a tad higher, but not enough to really affect play.